RIO TO QUITO (The Amazon)

12 WEEKS 2100 + US$1900 KITTY

A 12 week journey through Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia to Ecuador. On this pioneering expedition you will travel to the most remote, unknown reaches of South America. Experience Brazil's famous beach life, Amazonian adventures and the vibrant nightlife of Colombia's colonial cities.

Travelling in dug out canoes to Nature reserves, rebuilding muddy tracks to isolated coast towns and the steamy heat of the rain forest make this a real adventure for the active overlander. But the welcome sea breezes, cold beers and infectious salsa music make it all worth it.

18 MAY 2014 17 AUGUST 2014 RQ24
17 FEBRUARY 2015 10 MAY 2015 RQ15


Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Amazon Riverboat, Brazil's Beaches, Paramaribo, Angel Falls, Merida, Cartagena, Medellin, Tatacoa Desert, Quito

Click for Maps of Main Cities & Attractions









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The following itinerary is our proposed route, because of the nature of our travel, and the counties in which we are travelling it may not be possible to visit all of these places. Also we could find other things to do, so this may not be exactly what we end up doing!

We won’t attempt to fully describe every place in this section as you’d end up with a book. For more information we suggest you try some guide books. Lonely Planet and Footprint give good descriptions and information.


Arrive in Rio with a few days to spare to relax, organise your things and enjoy the marvellous city. Four or five days is enough time. Our truck and crew will already be there to welcome you. The day before we leave there will be a meeting to get to know each other, finalise paperwork and collect kitty money.


Setting off on our big adventure our first stop is the beautiful Ouro Preto, an important historical colonial city with winding cobbled streets, artistic churches and plazas with buskers. Now we make our way up the coast, looking for beaches and seafood until we reach the Chapada Diamantina National Park for some trekking, waterfalls and wildlife.


Back on the coast we then arrive at Salvador, Bahia for a taste of dance, drums and food. After Salvador's spinning capoeira and bustle of the plazas we stop for a quiet breather at Praia de Forte and then again at Olinda, with artisans and street performers and some wonderful restaurants.


More beach action at contrasting Canoa Quebrada and Fortaleza before we move inland to explore the caves of the Ubajara National Park and the impressive rock formations of the Sete Cidades N.P. (National Park) Next we visit the beautiful sand dunes and pools of the Lencois Maranheses N.P. and then on to Sao Luis.With many of it's buildings on the Unesco World Heritage list and top bars with live Reggae, this town keeps everybody entertained.


From here we go to Belem and organise our riverboat to take us and our truck overnight to Macapa on the mouth of the Amazon. We'll sleep in hammocks (or cabins) as our boat chugs on through the night.


From Macapa we head into the rainforest towards French Guiana. From here on travel will be much more rugged and unpredictable. With roads blocked by landslides or washed away by heavy rain, we may have to make our own repairs to the road or to bridges to continue. A fortunate couple of days and we should find ourselves at Oiapoque, where we stamp out of Brazil and look for a ferry game enough to carry us across the river and into French Guiana. In French Guaina we make for the capital city, Cayenne for a welcome shower and cold beer. Here we spend a couple of days relaxing and then head out to the Tresor & Kaw nature reserves to see rare water birds and caiman. North of Cayenne,we visit Kourou to take a tour of the Centre Spatial Guyanais, a busy satellite launch centre. If we're lucky we'll be there to see Ariane or one of the other rockets launch into space.


Then on to St Laurent du Maroni, where you can visit the chilling prison buildings that processed thousands of convicted French criminals, made famous by the book and film, Papillon. You can also take a canoe out for a spin in the surf. Leaving St Laurent and crossing the Marowijne River we enter Suriname. We drive directly to Paramaribo, one of the strangest, most curious mixes of cultures and foods you'll find anywhere. From here it's possible to take a trip out to nearby Galibi Nature Reserve where leatherback (and other) turtles come to lay eggs from April to August. Continuing west and crossing the Moleson Creek brings us to Guyana and its capital Georgetown. A day or two exploring the strangely constructed buildings, marvelling at the lively patrons of the bars and eating in a new restaurant for every meal and it's time to head back to the jungle.


After a few days bouncing and slipping down the potholed track south to Lethem we must find some way to cross the Takatu River and return to Brazil. If we're lucky the bridge will be OK to cross, if not, hope the river is low enough to drive through or find a boat to take us across to Bonfim. Then it's north into Venezuela where we enter the Canaima National Park, visiting the brilliant red Jasper Falls, with water cascading over brilliant red rock and the Quebrada Pacheco, hidden in the forest. Stopping at colourful Ciudad Bolivar we can take flights over Angel Falls. We then head north out of Venezuela's Guayana area and head for a night camping at the Cueva del Guacharo.


A visit to the glitzy grime of Caracas and then we head on to Hernri Pittier National Park to get some salty air and sand between our toes again.


A little time to relax in sleepy Coro and see the giant sand dunes of Medanos de Coro and onwards to Merida for all kinds of adventure sports or some gentle sightseeing.


Crossing into Colombia at Cucuta we head down to San Gil, base for hiking, caving, swimming and many other activities. From here we head north to Santa Marta to relax on the Carribean coast .If people are interested in the 6 day hike to the Ciudad Perdida (Teyuna) they can do this while others spend time at the beach.


A few nights enjoying Cartagena's fine food and sunsets,or visiting the nearby Islands will refresh everyone. Then we can go for a swim in the treacly mud from the Aboletes Volcano and on to Medellin for real fun nightlife..


Some time in Bogota lets us experience the cafes and cobbled streets of La Candelaria, the flash clubs of the north, the gold museum and a trip out to the monumental salt cathedral of Zipaquira. And then to Tatacoa desert to spend a night under the stars, after which we visit the peaceful Tierradentro - hills with painted burial caves scattered about. Back to town for a couple of nights dancing in Cali, arguably the Salsa capital of Latin America and we head down to the border to cross into Ecuador..

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In order to keep the initial trip cost low we leave most activities as optional. This gives you the flexibility to choose and only pay for exactly what you do.

Included in the TRIP COST are:

  • All travel in the truck and use of truck equipment (eg kitchen)
  • Services of trip leader
  • Truck costs - Diesel, repairs, road tolls, permits, etc

Included in the KITTY are:

  • Basic accommodation costs ie: camping or basic shared rooms in hotels/hostels
  • Most meals when camping and lunches on driving days
  • Ferry ticket cost as a passenger when travelling with the truck
  • Chapada Diamantina National Park
  • Entry to Ubajara and Sete Cidades National Parks
  • Hammock space on the Belem-Macapa riverboat
  • Entrance to the Tierradentro reserve
  • Guides for group visits


  • Any visas you might need
  • Your personal travel insurance
  • Your own spending money
  • Any medicines and vaccinations
  • Most meals when not camping (i.e. restaurant meals)
  • Costs of optional activities and visits
  • Any flights or other transport

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Here is a list of some of the extra things to do along the way. This list isn't exhaustive, and the prices are the equivalent cost in US dollars last time we were there, so they may change. But this list is still a useful guide for you to use when budgeting for your spending money.

Entry to Historic buildings and churches Ouro Preto free
Cable car down into the caves of Ubajara 2
4x4 trip to Lagoa Azul, P.N. Lencois Maranheses 20

Tour of Space Centre, Kourou free
Tour of Camp de la Transportation prison, St Laurent 8
Main meal in Paramaribo 5
Excursion to Galibi Reserve 120

Day trip flying to Angel Falls and back 300
Watching the birds flying out of Cueva del Guacharo free
Merida cable car round trip day 30
Paragliding Merida 75
Mountain bike rental per day, Merida 15

Rafting San Gil 20-100
Waterfall abseiling 25
Paragliding Chichamocha canyon 100
Horse riding per day 20
Swimming in San Gil's rivers free
Ciudad Perdida 6 day hike 300
Meal in a pleasant restaurant, Cartagena 8
Entrance to art museum 8
Entrance to Cartagena's cathedrals and forts free-5
Showers & lockers Volcan de Lodo, Arboletes 2
Stargazing in the Tatacoa desert free
Taxi ride in Bogota (depending on traffic) 3


Due to the unpredictable political and environmental conditions in many of the countries we visit it may be necessary to alter the route taken by the trip. In such case we will arrange an alternative route as best possible and cover costs to relocate the truck if necessary, but passengers will be liable for any personal travel costs incurred when away from the truck.

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beach sunset
beach sunset
desert bus
desert bus
rio dancer
rio dancer
ecuador waterfall
ecuador waterfall
rainforest hiking
rainforest hiking
amazon basin
amazon basin
kingfisher in brazil
kingfisher in brazil
burgers on the bbq
burgers on the bbq